WHEN Melinda Messenger posed in a double-glazing ad for a local firm, displayed in her home town, she could have no idea what would happen next.
In the space of six months she became a household name, after appearing as a Sun Page 3 girl in 1997.
The posters for Glevum Windows featured Melinda — then 25 and working as a customer service manager for a marketing firm — showing off her cleavage in sexy undies.
They proved so popular in Swindon that fans kept pinching them from bus stops.
She told The Sun in 1998: “People talk about the real deciding moments of their lives.
"For me, it came in one phone call from The Sun. It was like a thunderbolt. They had seen me, Little Miss Nobody from Swindon, posing in white lingerie on a poster for a double-glazing firm.
“The man on the telephone offered me the chance to become a Page 3 Girl. I remember saying, ‘But I’m due in at the office’, before the full enormity of what he was saying hit me. Instead of driving my little Honda Accord into work, I called the office and took the day off.”
She made her debut in The Sun the following day, billed as the “girl for the Thrillenium”.
‘I was skinny at school’
Her 34D-22-34 measurements soon became a hit with readers who gleefully wrote in.
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At a film premiere, star John Cleese cooed to her: “It’ll be my pleasure to have my picture taken with you.”
She said: “I was so convinced it was a hoax I started laughing.
"But he said, ‘I’d like you to name a train for me in Manchester. Come around to my place first, then we can fly up in my private jet.’
“At that moment, I realised I could handle everything. I thought, ‘I’m just going to enjoy it’.”
Melinda wasn’t just a pretty face — some credited her with helping to turn the political tide.
Just months after the Spice Girls came out in support of Prime Minister John Major’s Tory party, Melinda revealed she planned to vote for New Labour in 1997 because “the country could do with a change.”
I was skinny and flat as a pancake at school. I used to eat a Mars bar every day hoping to get womanly curves.Melinda Messenger
As the busty blonde shot to fame, she revealed she’d had a boob job, taking her assets from a 34C to 34DD.
Petite 5ft 5in Melinda had the £3,000 implants in September 1996 at a clinic in Manchester after signing with the Jason Paul modelling agency.
She recalled: “I was skinny and flat as a pancake at school. I used to eat a Mars bar every day hoping to get womanly curves. I was nearly 17 before I started to fill out.”
At that time she was already engaged to future husband Wayne Roberts, a 21-year-old production supervisor with music company EMI, who she met at a club in Swansea.
Melinda said: “Wayne is totally behind what I’m doing. He loves me for me, not just my body. He’s my best friend. We have a great laugh together and sexually it just gets better and better.”
Melinda went from earning £22,000 a year to making £100,000 in just four months.
She could pocket a whopping £14,000 from one day’s photoshoot — but the down-to-earth model still led a relatively thrifty life.
In 1997 she and Wayne bought their dream home, a £200,000, five-bedroom farmhouse in Wiltshire.
Melinda told us at the time: “Last week my friend Denise van Outen rang to find out if I’d been at a big showbiz party in London. I said, ‘No. I spent the night stripping paint from a window. It was fantastic’.
Wayne is totally behind what I’m doing. He loves me for me, not just my body. He’s my best friend.Melinda Messenger
“Denise laughed and said, ‘You lead such a rock ’n’ roll lifestyle’.”
Melinda — who converted to Buddhism after a trip to Sri Lanka — married Wayne in Bali, Indonesia in 1998.
Now at the height of her fame, she visited Spanish and English seaside resorts on Mel’s Big Bus Tour.
Sun readers were urged to try out chat-up lines on her such as: “Echate en mis brazos Mel, y dime que soy tu unico Juan.” (Hold me in your arms Mel and tell me I’m the only Juan.)
But Melinda was booted from Page 3 in July 1997 after 82 per cent of readers voted to ban breast implants in the paper. She accepted her fate, saying: “Nobody can argue with the decision of Sun readers.
"I accept the verdict totally. I’m just delighted I’ll still be appearing in The Sun as often as I did — with and without my clothes on. I know it won’t be on Page 3 so I’m hoping I’ll be getting on the front page instead.”
‘My life falling apart’
Though while her star was shining, her personal life took a nosedive with an almighty falling-out with her mother, Avis Brock.
In a tell-all newspaper interview, Avis branded her daughter fake. The carer said: “She has ruined her hair, which was never naturally blonde. It looks like she has put her head down a toilet full of Domestos bleach.
“She is only 5ft 2in and not 5ft 5in like they claim. She is also saying she has 12 O levels but she dropped out of college and really got about seven.
"Everybody is saying I am proud of her but nothing is further from the truth.”
Melinda read the piece on a flight from the US, and recalled: “I burst into tears. I wanted to run somewhere private to cry but I was stuck on the plane.”
After Avis tried to take her own life later that year, a traumatised Melinda decided to rebuild her relationship with her mum.
Mel soon turned her hand to TV, after getting a taste for presenting following guest slots on late-night Channel 4 show Eurotrash.
Melinda later told how, after her second and third pregnancies, she experienced postnatal depression. She said: “I couldn’t see an end to the hell I was experiencing. I saw my life falling apart and there was nothing I could do.”
The less said about that one, the better. I attract the wrong sort of men.Melinda Messenger
In 2012, after 14 years of marriage, Melinda and Wayne divorced amicably for the sake of their children. Melinda, who at that time was in her second year of a psychotherapy course, said: “We tried to make it work but realised we have grown apart too much.
“We want to keep our family unit working as best as we can.”
Two years later Melinda appeared on celeb skiing contest The Jump, where she caught the eye of hunky instructor Warren Smith.
After dating for three years the couple split after rowing about parenting styles and Warren’s nights out.
She said: “The less said about that one, the better. I attract the wrong sort of men. People think I’m a good-time glamour girl but I’m not. Blokes who want a trophy girlfriend go for me but they’re not my type.”
Melinda went on Celebrity First Dates in 2018, where she met coffee shop boss Chris Harding. Awkwardly, the ex-photographer had snapped her wedding to Wayne in 1998, but they still went on to date for eight months.
Now 51, single Melinda is not short of admirers — with a younger generation chatting her up. She said: “It baffles me, especially when it’s some guy in his mid-twenties.”
This year she signed up to a dating agency and has deliberately used an unflattering profile pic.
She said: “I want it to be honest and truthful and I don’t want it to be about, ‘Oh, that’s that ex-model’. Who wants to be dated for who they were back then?”